Transgender rights bill could be petitioned to referendum

The day after the state legislature extended civil rights protections to transgender people, the group that successfully petitioned same-sex marriage to the ballot in 2012 threatened to petition the transgender protections, too. sent a letter to supporters Friday soliciting interest in putting the transgender law to referendum this year. 

"The good news is that we don't have to accept this bill as law – there is another way to defeat this terrible bill," the email read. 

The group invented an online process in 2011 for collecting signatures, which allowed them to petition a law to referendum for the first time in two decades. By the 2012 election, successfully put three laws onto the ballot: same-sex marriage, the congressional redistricting map, and in-state tuition for certain undocumented immigrants.  Voters upheld all three.

The House of Delegates on Thursday gave final approval to the transgender protections bill, which would prohibit discrimination against transgender people in employment, business, housing and public accommodations. Gov. Martin O'Malley intends to sign it into law.

Several counties and Baltimore City already extend such protections to transgender people.

Opposition to the bill, primarily led by Republicans, dubbed it "the bathroom bill" and complained that it would entitle people who were born male to enter women's bathrooms and locker rooms. In heated debate on the floor, Republicans charged that predators would sneak into ladies restrooms and use the new law as an excuse.

Advocates for transgender people dismissed that hypothetical as fear-mongering, and pointed out that existing laws already making sneaking into a restroom to assault people a crime.

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